Attendance at the annual event, Aug. 27-29, was up this year, said IGSA president Mark Klompien.
Seminar and committee meetings filled the first day of the convention, with recreational activities scheduled for most of Aug. 28-29.
Seminar topics Aug. 27 included a discussion of genetically modified organism by Kate Hall of the Washington, D.C.-based Biotechnology Industry Organization. She discussed the need for the biotech industry to engage with consumers on the Web and in social media to “redefine the conversation.”
The potato industry is set to join that conversation in earnest when the U.S. Department of Agriculture gives approval to the first generation of Innate potatoes, the genetically engineered potatoes that Boise, Idaho-based Simplot has been developing for 14 years. Among the potato’s traits are lowewr acrylamide content when cooked and anti-bruising properties. With USDA expected to approve Innate potatoes this fall, the industry will have the challenge of overcoming consumers’ distrust of genetically-modified organisms. Hall identified an opportunity to educate people on “consumer-facing” GMO benefits and the scientific facts of the genetic engineering process.
The Idaho Potato Commission gave an update on rules governing the use of registered Idaho potato certification marks on packaging in a marketing committee meeting. Travis Blacker, industry relations director for the commission, reported on Agricultural Marketing Analytics, a real-time pricing and volume reporting service for agriculture that Idaho grower-shippers are considering investing in.
Representatives from CSX Transportation Inc., Norfolk Southern Corp. and C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. gave updates on rail and truck transportation trends.
John Toaspern and Sarah Reece of the U.S. Potato Board updated attendees on global export trends, including the latest developments with Mexico. The pair also summarized the results of recent USPB research projects and gave an overview of some of the retail programs the board provides.